Noelle Jackson and Shay Pinhey Power Softball To Senior Day Sweep

Hope softball seniors Ashley Ables, Noelle Jackson and Shay Pinhey pose for a picture together on home plate at Wolters Stadium. by Greg Chandler

Hope College softball seniors Shay Pinhey and Noelle Jackson made their final home games at Wolters Stadium memorable ones on Saturday as the Flying Dutch swept a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association doubleheader from Kalamazoo College, 13-9 and 17-3.

Pinhey and Jackson, who have started all 161 games in their careers at Hope, combined to go 9-for-15 at the plate, scored 10 runs and added four RBIs as the Flying Dutch finished the MIAA regular season in third place with a 10-6 conference record. Hope will take a 23-11 overall mark into the MIAA tournament that begins Thursday at Trine University in Angola, Indiana.

Photo of, from left, Ashley Ables, Noelle Jackson and Shay Pinhey, by Alan Babbitt

Pinhey, a designated player from Ann Arbor, Michigan (Pioneer HS) had two hits in each game, drove in two runs in the opener and scored three runs in the nightcap. Jackson, a left fielder from Grand Blanc, Michigan (Grand Blanc HS), scored two runs in the opener, then went 4-for-4 with four runs scored and two stolen bases in the second game.

"That's really a nice bonus on Senior Day to have your seniors play so well," Hope coach Mary VandeHoef said. "They've had unbelievable careers here. To start every game in all four years is pretty special. They're such good friends, too, so it makes it really enjoyable. They were a big part of us taking two today."

Sophomore shortstop Savannah Dixon of Niles, Michigan (Edwardsburg HS) went 6-for-7 in the doubleheader, including a 4-for-4 performance with three runs scored and five RBIs in the second game. Five of her hits were doubles, including three in the second game to tie a Hope single game record. That record was originally set by current Flying Dutch assistant coach Lisa Timmer Schoonveld '97 against Adrian College in 1997, and later equaled by Nicole Izenbaard against Fontbonne (Missouri) College in 2004.

In Game 1, Hope overcame an early 3-0 deficit, exploding for seven runs in the second inning. Pinhey delivered a key two-run single to put the Flying Dutch ahead to stay at 4-3, then came around to score on Dixon's double. After a pair of walks loaded the bases, sophomore center fielder Jo Cook of Birch Run, Michigan (Birch Run HS) drove in two more runs with a single to left to give Hope a 7-3 lead.

After Kalamazoo rallied for three runs in the fourth to cut the Flying Dutch lead to one, Hope pulled away with a run in the fifth and five in the sixth. Freshman pitcher Janelle Baar of Byron Center, Michigan (Byron Center HS), who had come on in relief in the fourth inning, doubled in a run in the fifth.

Then in the sixth, sophomore catcher Morgann Kanouse of Cadillac, Michigan (Cadillac HS), doubled home a run. Sophomore pinch-hitter Abby Wallar of Zeeland, Michigan (Zeeland West HS) belted her first career home run, a two-run shot over the left field fence. Two batters later, Baar went yard for her first career homer, a two-run blast to left. Those homers would prove to be the margin of victory as Kalamazoo scored three runs in the seventh.

Baar picked up her seventh win of the season against two losses, allowing two earned runs and seven hits in three innings.

In Game 2, the Flying Dutch pounded out 19 hits and scored in all five innings as they won by the 8-run rule.

Hope scored three runs in each of the first two innings, with Dixon putting Hope ahead with a two-run double in the first. Pinhey's RBI double and an RBI single by Dixon helped boost the Flying Dutch lead to 6-1 after two innings.

Then in the fifth, the Flying Dutch sent 12 batters to the plate in scoring nine runs on seven hits off three Hornet pitchers to turn the game into a blowout. Jackson had two of her four hits in the inning, leading off with a single and later tripling to right to score a run. Junior right fielder Jordyn Diaz of Naperville, Illinois (Neuqua Valley HS) singled in two runs, and Dixon delivered her third double of the game to drive in two more.

Jackson tied a single-game Hope record for runs scored with four in the second game, becoming the fifth Hope player to accomplish the feat. Kylee Brouwer scored four runs in a game twice, against Saint Mary's (Indiana) in 2005 and Adrian in 2006. Christa Murphy did it against Muskingum (Ohio) in 1996, Laura Tanouye against Colorado College in 2006 and Hayley Reitsma against Albion in 2018.

"Hope softball has been an incredible part of my life," Jackson said. "To be here at Hope and on this field is amazing, especially with Ashley (Ables, senior student manager who was also honored Saturday) and Shay and all my teammates."

Sophomore pitcher Megan Soderbloom of Dowagiac, Michigan (Dowagiac HS) picked up her third win of the season in four decisions by scattering seven hits over four innings, striking out four.

Pinhey is confident about Hope's prospects for the conference tournament.

"We've been in a little bit of a slump with our hitting, so it was cool to see us come back today," she said. "If we can keep that up, it's hard to beat a team that scores a lot of runs. I think if we sharpen up a little on defense, and keep the hitting rolling, we're in a good rhythm right now." | PO Box 9000, Holland, Michigan 49422